Freshman Charlie Brown, who scored 12 points in the first half, tallied 15 for the first double-figure game of his career, while sophomore Chris Clover tallied a career-high 11 points for Saint Joseph’s (2-0).
The Hawks were playing without starting forward James Demery who suffered a stress fracture in his foot in the season opener versus Toledo, and will be without him for a few weeks. Freshman Nick Robinson made the first start of his career, giving coach Phil Martelli one of his youngest starting lineups in recent years, with two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior.
Saint Joseph’s never trailed in the game and after back-to-back threes by Brown and Robinson, took a 17-6 lead in the first seven minutes. Leading 17-8, Kimble and Brown combined to score nine straight, with a dunk from Brown pushing the SJU lead to 26-11.
SJU, which shot 57.6 percent from the field in the half, increased the margin to 20, 38-18, on a layup from Newkirk at 6:54. The Hawks took their biggest lead of the half, 50-27, on a three-pointer at the buzzer by senior Brendan Casper, who added seven points in a career-high 23 minutes.
"The eight turnovers is really an encouraging sign, because I think we can eliminate from there. Three or four of them were quick walks, and they're unnecessary. We didn't have to go fast, we had to go quick against this team. We need to make sure our shot number gets up there. We're targeting 60 shots a game, and then we can live with everything else,” said SJU head coach Phil Martelli. “And (assistant coach) Dave Duda deserves the credit, with the scouting report on one game. We don't chart things, but we wanted to have active hands . . . We were able to get active hands going."
"I thought the seniors really helped. Brendan Casper's three charges and activity, energy, and confidence. He doesn't just 'have a scholarship.' He's a scholarship player now, and he approached it like that. He has approached every day in practice like that. I thought Javon (Baumann) was very good. Six rebounds in 16 minutes. Javon guards like an older guy,” said Martelli.
The Hawks maintained the 20-plus point lead for most of the half, except for a 5-0 run by Columbia that cut the margin to 60-45 at 10:40. Saint Joseph’s took its biggest lead of the contest, 78-52, on a three from Brown at 4:41.
Columbia (1-1) was led by Jake Killingsworth, who scored 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting and Nate Hickman with 14 points.
"It's going to be a game-by-game thing now without James. We lose his rebounding and his defense. But first things first, his health is more important than anything else,” said the coach. “"We may have to go with two bigger guys. It may not be pretty, but we have to stretch these positions."
Saint Joseph’s is off to the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, beginning play on Friday against Loyola Chicago.